City Hall Theatre

31-32 Park Row,
New York, NY 10038

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

Ed’s right. The Tribune Theatre was in the white building partly seen about a block to the left of the City Hall Theatre in the photo at the top of this page.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

Actually, Tinseltoes… I believe that this is a photo of the Tribune Theatre, which was located closer to the Brooklyn Bridge entrance, in a block of buildings that no longer exist.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

Appears to be a blank marquee. I wouldn’t be surprised if this theater was dark for stretches during the Depression.

Tinseltoes on April 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

This started operating as the City Hall News Theatre at 31 Park Row on April 29th, 1943, according to a report in the next day’s issue of The New York Times. Programming consisted of the latest newsreels, short subjects, and cartoons, with complete changes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Admission was 25 cents at all times. Since that downtown business district virtually closed down at night, the City Hall Newsreel Theatre was open only from 9:00am to 6:00pm daily.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2012 at 6:53 am

The July 8, 1915, issue of The New York Times said that the Reliable Investment Company, headed by Joseph Weinstock, had leased the property at 31 Park Row from the Jay Gould estate, and on expiration of the lease of the current tenants (on May 1, 1916) intended to replace the existing building with a moving picture theater.

I’m not sure if the original building, which dated from 1881 or 1882, was ultimately demolished, or was merely remodeled. However, plans for altering the City Hall Theatre building were filed in 1922, according to the February 4 issue of Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide. Architect Louis A. Sheinart was responsible for the plans, which included removing an existing wall, installing a new wall, beams, seats, stairs, and a marquee. A bowling alley was also mentioned as part of the project.

nycelluloidgirl on February 5, 2012 at 1:37 am

The marquee says “Bing Crosby – Martha Raye” from the film “Double or Nothing.” Released September 17, 1937.

AlAlvarez on January 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

This was still listed as open in the Film Daily Yearbook for 1946. It is listed as closed in the 1947 edition.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 6, 2008 at 8:10 am

Even with a magnifier, I can’t read the message on the marquee. One can’t really guess a date by the cars, since new ones weren’t manufactured during WWII. During some of those years, the City Hall operated as a newsreel house. The photo confirms that the entrance and auditorium were in the building shown in this 2007 view with a yellow Nikon Digital sign across the top:
View link

jflundy on July 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I have come upon several photos of the City Hall Theater marquee which could not be used because of copyright issues, This is the best one i have seen and it is available thanks to Frank Pfuhler. Frank has kindly made vailable about 3000 photos from his collection of traction subjects on Webshots.

View link shows a TARS conduit streetcar on Park Row at City Hall from sometime between 1939 and 1947 as it waits to run back uptown. The City Hall Theater is in the background.
Perhaps someone can make out the movies ‘now showing" on the marquee.

LuisV on June 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm

After I posted above, I realized that 5th Avenue and Central Park West both have odd and even #’s on the same side of the street as they knew that no structures would ever be built on the Park sides.

There is another oddity in addresses downtown in the Financial District. The numbers for the addresses on Broad Street run North to South instead of the standard South to North. Don’t know why that is. :–)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Here are new links to photos described above on 7/5/06. Hard to believe that nearly two years have passed since I snapped them. The second photo would be impossible to take today due a construction project at the spot where I stood:
View link
View link

LuisV on June 14, 2008 at 10:46 am

Lost Memory….There are some Streets in New York that contain both odd and even # adresses on the same side of the street. I believe this happens when there is no “other side” of the street. For example, across from Park Row is City Hall Park. Since there are no buildings there to have the even #’s, both odd and even were used for the East Side buildings.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on February 18, 2007 at 6:53 am

I believe that the marquee of the City Hall Theatre can be seen in this undated view of Park Row, but I’m having trouble reconciling it with a color photo that I took in 2006. In the B&W photo, the theatre entrance appears to be at the right side of the small white building with billboards atop it. The area has drastically changed over the decades. The fountain in City Hall Park was moved a bit north when the park was re-designed in 1999:

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 5, 2006 at 3:48 am

I think that I found the City Hall Theatre, which still exists but has been drastically changed into retail space over the years. It is currently a J&R store using the address of 31 Park Row. In the first photo, it is the building with the yellow Nikon Digital sign at the top. The smaller building to the left known as the J&R “Clearance Center” was originally a Thompson’s chain restaurant, and you can still see “Thompson’s” carved in stone below the geisha girl billboard. The right side of the second photo shows some of the back of the City Hall Theatre building, and was snapped from an empty lot on Nassau Street.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 18, 2006 at 5:17 am

The 1944 FDYB listing was apparently an error. The 1934 FDYB gives an address of 32 Park Row for the City Hall Theatre.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 17, 2006 at 6:05 am

J&R occupies several buildings in one block of Park Row, but not consecutively. There are some other non-J&R buildings between them. Perhaps Park Row has been re-numbered since the “old days.” Where is the current 1 Park Row, south or north of 23? Do the numbers run up or down?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 17, 2006 at 5:24 am

Could this be the same theatre? The 1944 FDYB gives an address for the City Hall Theatre as 3 Park Row, which could be an error with one digit missing. However, 3 Park Row would be closer to City Hall than #31:

jflundy on October 9, 2004 at 4:33 pm

I have located a photo of the theater showing part of the marquee and building facade. It was taken in May 1941. It was in operation at this time.
the photo shows a four storey building with a pool hall on the second floor front. South face of marquee reads:
Laugh Hit……..
Pirate of……..
Late News……..
Remainder of dotted lines is not shown in photo.

This is not the theater I was describing in a previous comment above which would be located to the north around a corner from this one.

bamtino on August 30, 2004 at 5:23 pm

Both address searches and DOB inquiries do show that the property is currently occupied by J&R. The last Public Assembly Permit listed for the location is dated 1944 so, in theory, the theatre was still operating at that point.

bamtino on August 30, 2004 at 5:17 pm

The theatre was apparently located in a four-story structure on property owned by the Jay Gould family from 1881-1946. An earlier, five-story structure had, at various times, housed the New York World, Daily News, and New York Times as tenants but was apparently demolished in 1916.
As mentioned in my summary, the theatre was operational no later than 1919 (there was a quickly-extinguished projection booth fire in June of that year). In 1926, Loews acquired a 32-year lease on the facility but, by 1939, the property was leased to Douglas Amusement Corporation (which apparently operated several upper Manhattan and Bronx theatres).
In 1946, the structure was sold by a corporation comprised of Gould’s heirs and was slated for renovations to make it suitable for retail space.
I’ve found some reference to 1950s and 60s operation of a Horn&Hardat Automat in the basement of a structure at this location. Does that ring any bells for anyone?

jflundy on August 30, 2004 at 11:31 am

I have a recollection of a theater in the old Tribune Buiding on Park Row.

Park Row was the old center of the newspaper business in NYC in the 19th Century and into the early 20th. This area was also a transportation hub in period 1890-1943 when Brooklyn trolleys and ‘L" trains ran over the Brooklyn Bridge and met the Manhattan 'L" system and Third Avenue Railway trolleys at Park Row near City Hall.

The theater I recall was built into the old cavernous press rooms of the Tribune Building with an entrance on the northside facing toward the Brooklyn Bridge. It had a small round marquee that appeared to be of late ‘30’s or early 40’s vintage. It may have been called the City Hall but I can’t remember with any certainty. The last time I remember it open was circa 1961.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on August 30, 2004 at 8:41 am

The City Hall had 535 seats, according to the 1932 Film Daily Year Book. I believe that it was in the block now mainly occupied by J&R Music & Electronics, but I’ve never been able to find traces of it.